By Charlotte Aguilar
Tributes continue to spring up in Bellaire and on social media as the community grieves over the death of Marco Zarate, a seven-year police officer who was known for his broad smile and kindnesses. A visitation is set for Sunday, with funeral services planned Monday afternoon.
Yossi Zaklikofsky of The Shul of Bellaire took to Facebook to post a tender photo of Zarate kissing a new Torah during a welcoming parade down Bissonnet Street two years ago, for which he was working security.
“I will miss the wave we exchanged every morning in front of Condit Elementary and his unwavering commitment to protecting our community,” Zaklikofsky recalled. “I am sure he will continue to look after us from heaven.”
Outside the Bellaire Police Department, a shrine of sorts is growing, with flowers, balloons, handwritten notes, a teddy bear and religious relics.
Most poignant are the carefully scrawled children’s messages. “I am so sorry,” reads one, “but know God is protecting him.”
Another simply says, “To the policeman i luv you.”
Over at the Starbucks that Zarate frequented a few blocks away, a plastic cup bearing his name and customary order stands on a table, alongside a poster board with pens, nearly filled with messages.
“I loved running into you on your bike,” one woman wrote. “Your big smile always made me think how much you loved your job.”
Above it was the message: “We lost another hero.”
The last time Bellaire mourned a lost policeman was when Officer Jimmie Norman was shot to death by a man he had pulled over on Christmas Eve 2012.
The city upheld the same tradition it had observed then, when a van carrying Zarate’s body passed by the Bellaire Police Department early Wednesday evening on its way to the funeral home. Fire trucks were parked outside in tribute, and City Hall workers, elected officials and his police colleagues dotted the sidewalk to pay their respects.
Zarate, 52, was a Marine veteran and leaves behind a wife and three daughters. He died Tuesday when he lost control of his motorcycle while chasing two shoplifting suspects and crashed. One of those suspects has turned himself in and been charged with murder.
Visitation for Zarate will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Freeway.
The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston, 1111 St. Joseph Parkway.